Mount Sto. Tomas catchment basin almost empty; regular water testing set

BAGUIO CITY  – (5 March 2021) – Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Tuesday led a group on an ocular inspection of the city’s rainwater catchment basin in Mount Sto. Tomas to verify reports of the facility’s critically-low water levels and alleged encroachments of vegetable farms that may pose a threat to the water’s potability.

Joining the Mayor are concerned city department heads including Tuba municipality, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Baguio Water District (BWD) representatives, police personnel and local journalists.

The Mayor’s earlier warning of a possible water shortage in the Summer Capital gained impetus when the group saw an almost empty catchment basin with less than a meter (0.70m) of water remaining.

BWD water resources supervisor Engr. Danike Eslay explained that the water left will be used solely for draining the facility that was built to contain 700,000 cubic meters of water.

Normal water levels of the Sto. Tomas catchment basin reaches a maximum of 12.46 meters, he disclosed.

This prompted the Mayor to re-iterate his plea for the public to conserve water whenever they can and not waste the precious resource needlessly.

During the inspection, the officials also agreed to collect and test water samples from the catchment basin and surrounding bodies of water for nitrates and other potentially harmful contaminants with city environment and parks management office head Rhenan Diwas as the focal person.

City Administrator Bonifacio Dela Pena advised that the testing be done on a monthly basis.

“The regular testing of the city’s water supply will ensure that the health of Baguio’s residents is not compromised,” Magalong stressed.

Diwas said members with technical expertise of the local water resources board from concerned government offices, agencies and the private sector, will meet next week to formulate solutions to the city’s water woes that will be presented to the Mayor.

Earlier, the city government got a P90 million funding commitment from the Department of Budget and Management for the construction of a rainwater harvesting facility within the Camp 8 watershed along Kennon Road as part of its ongoing water use and conservation efforts.

The Mayor said it will serve as an additional water containment area and effectively address the impending water shortage in the city. – Gaby B. Keith